As a lover of education, I hate information for the sake of information. I want to read something is relatable, tangible and applicable, and I’m sure you do too.

There are 3 effective training strategies that you can apply today that will have an immediate effect. They are as follows:

  1. Make Training Personal
  2. Engage People in Training
  3. Training Must be Applied

Unless the information includes actionable steps that are practical, it’s just more information to fill my head. For training to actually be effective, I have to be able to do what I have learned. In fact, I haven’t really learned anything until I can do something with it.

I want to get to the application. I want to get down to business. So, the question is, “how?” Here are some things that you can look for when you are choosing training for yourself or for your employees.

Make Training Personal

Most people learn most effectively from person to person interactions. This may include a live classroom setting, or it may be one on one mentoring. The opportunity to ask questions and interact aids the information exchange. It helps to assure that the information is received accurately. It can even help the information to be made more applicable, as questions may be asked regarding real life situations.

Classroom learning can be effective, as students can not only interact with the instructor, but can also interact with each other. This dynamic can offer opportunities for people to analyze what is being taught and formulate applications within their own individual context.

Mentoring can be a fantastic way for people to learn. I recommend that everyone, at every stage in their development, look for a mentor to help them learn and continue growing. This can take the form of a specific one-on-one training that is focused on a single topic, and will therefore, be limited in the length of the interaction, or it may be more of a coaching environment that includes multiple topics and many interactions. The type of mentoring will be dependent on the learning goals, whether there is a specific topic to be learned, or growth in multiple areas that can gleaned from the mentor relationship. When I work with my Personal Business Consulting clients, it may be from either angle. Sometimes, it is a specific thing that they need to learn, and so the time together takes on more of the one-on-one training approach. Other times, a client needs general development and a mentor to coach them through the many questions that arise in business, and so the time together includes more helping them to ask the right questions, with some teaching along the way. Both have their place, and both can be effective, but it’s always personal and relatable.

Engage People in Training

One of the saddest things that I see is a training classroom where people are not engaged. As the familiar story goes, someone was told by their boss that they have to go to some training event. They go in, already with the expectation that it’s going to be long and boring, and it is. The person sits through it and gets to the end with the feeling that, “at least it was a day away from the office.” They have their little notebook that they got from the training which goes on the shelf, never to be looked at again, and they have their certificate that they can show the boss and hang on the side of their cubicle. That’s the end. They “learned” the material and they have the certificate to prove it, but they never do anything with it. What a waste!

So, how can training actually engage people, instead of boring them? Interaction is always a key. Don’t subscribe to training that’s not going to include plenty of real-life examples, games, simulations, exercises, or going to show you how to apply the material in your own context. Sitting and listening to an instructor, with their multi-media presentation and handouts, without other activities inter-woven throughout in order to show the application, is never going to be engaging. To think that it is sufficient is just naïve. I have developed a system that uses a facilitator type approach to conduct training while people learn to apply it in their own context before they ever leave the classroom. Members of the Aim for Growth Business Network are able to learn techniques that allow people to be so engaged with the material that they feel like they are solving problems, not even recognizing how much they have learned.

Training Must Be Applied

Every boss that sends an employee to training has the desire that the employee is going to be able to do something differently in their job because of that training. Application is always at the center of the motivation for training, but it is often a missing piece when looking at facts. I’ve seen some companies go so far as to virtually eliminate all formal training because they weren’t getting the ROI from the application of the things “learned.” For application to become a reality, it has to be a clear objective for the instructor, the student, and the boss – whoever is involved in the training decision.

The responsibility of the instructor is to make sure that the training time incorporates the elements of engagement that we discussed, especially real-life examples and application activities for the students. The instructor should even offer action items for the students after the training in order to help them to take the next steps. Ideally, this will be coordinated with the boss who can then hold the employee accountable for the actions.

The student probably has the heaviest weight of responsibility in assuring application of the material. This is contrary to what people typically think. Most people assume that the primary responsibility for a training program to be effective is with the instructor. This mindset is part of what causes students to enter a training environment from a passive, disengaged perspective, just waiting for it to be over. The truth is that regardless of how good an instructor performs in presenting the material, the student’s response is paramount to effective application. The student must think through the material, look at the elements that are connected to the context for application and evaluate best methodologies for that application. In the most basic sense, the student must choose to find ways to apply the material.

The boss carries responsibility, however, as well, assuming that the boss is not the one that chose to take the training for himself or herself. It is the boss that provides the accountability for a return on investment in the training. This may be done in many ways. It may include simply asking the employee what he is going to do with the training material, or helping to create a plan of action. It includes following up in the weeks and months after the training to assure ongoing review of the material and further application.

Make the Training Count

Training may sometimes be required by a boss, or in order to qualify for certain roles, but actual learning for application is a choice. It’s time to have training that is applied in order for real growth to occur. It’s time to get down to business when it comes to training. It’s up to you to make it happen. Apply clear strategies that will make your training count.